R. Kelly is a man apart. A man of many personalities. On his 7th studio LP entitled "Happy People/ U Saved Me", R. Kelly attempts to totally separate two of his popular sounds with "Happy People" playing as a virtual album length theme song for the 'steppers', and "U Saved Me" delivering a soulful offering of inspirational tunes. While both discs individually are flawed with filler tracks, as a whole the double album is a semi-solid offering with almost an entire album worth of great songs.
"Happy People" starts out very weak, as the first five songs are all labeled 'for the steppers', and that concept grows old very fast. However, by track 6 entitled "If" the CD starts to really pick up its pace. "If" is a very soulful song which features R. Kelly singing about the "What ifs" in life. 'The Greatest Show On Earth' is more of a slow tempo love-making song which is vintage R. Kelly at its finest. 'If I Could Make The World Dance' is another solid effort, but not because of its tired topic matter, but because of its great production that adds more dimension to the typical of the same theme. This albums lead single is "Happy People", and I like to think of this as "Step In The Name of Love" Part II. However, what saves this song from failure due to its theme is that it is actually far better than the track that it's inspired by. Out of all the stepping songs on this cd, 'Happy People" is easily the finest and it will without a doubt keep the feet tapping.
"U Saved Me" is the better of the two discs because it not only has more standout tracks, but it doesn't cluster all of the solid tracks into one half of the album. "U Saved Me" is a more well rounded effort which starts off strong but also ends strong. '3 Way Phone Call' is R. Kelly in his almost natural phone call role playing. This time the co star is Kelly Price. '3 Way Phone Call' is an inspirational track that features R. Kelly confessing his sins in a manner that is far more soulfully intelligent than the countless 'Confession' songs that we hear on the radio today. "U Saved Me"s lead single is also its title track, which tells a few tales of, one of which is how R. Kelly was saved from death. Conceptually, this track is one of the double albums finest because it contains a lot of heart, substance, and intelligence. 'How Did You Manage' is another gem due to hypnotic production that pays homage to the Creator and also voices his appreciation for the love R. Kelly's bee shown over the years. In terms of pure inspiration, "Spirit" is the albums finest because of its lush production, and harmonious vocals by R. Kelly that is the icing on the cake. This album closes out strong with 'Peace', and while its topic is nothing new, its motive is noteworthy.
Despite its flaws, has R. Kelly still managed to produce one of the years finest r&b albums? Yes. R. Kelly is no stranger, to the game, and he proves once again why he is one of the most recognizable figures in r&b. This is R. Kelly's third double album, and by now I hope he realizes that the fans love both of his styles, and would much rather hear a focused effort that compliments all of his styles rather than an album that segregates and stretches his styles. While both discs have their own distinct personalities, hopefully next time around we can bear witness to R. Kelly showing us his personality as a whole instead of instead of in two dependent sections.